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Soundproof Your Home and Windows

City living can be noisy. Traffic, subway trains, the guy upstairs who plays heavy metal all night--put them all together, and noise can be a major problem. You also need to sleep well, and that's not easy to do when the Department of Public Works is using that jack hammer to tear up the street. And, if you work at home, you need a quiet space to be productive.

To keep the heavy metal outside and peace inside, be sure your home has soundproof windows, walls, and ceilings.

The degree to which a partition insulates a room from sound is rated according to a measure called the transmission loss. This determines the material's Sound Transmission Class (STC). A high class is preferred to a low one. Windows, insulation, and carpeting have STC ratings; who knew?

You can increase the STC rating of a partition in three ways: add mass to it, add space around it, or stop the vibrations with soft furniture or carpeting.

How To Soundproof

Employ the following techniques to soundproof windows:

  • Make sure your windows have double-panes or triple-panes
  • Use thick draperies and insulated window blinds
  • Put inch-wide mats called window plugs on the window to block sound (they block light too, but some window plugs can be removed during the day for the best of both worlds)

To soundproof walls, add drywall or insulation. You can also add sound coverings on the outside of the wall.

As for the guy upstairs, put soundproof tiling on the ceilings. You can also drywall and use insulation. Let him listen to Metallica all he wants. You won't have to.

Whether you soundproof windows, walls, or ceilings, you can probably make significant improvements in noise reduction as a do-it-yourselfer. For complex projects, consider hiring a contractor to get the job done right; you just might sleep better and, in turn, live better.